11 Reasons why procrastination may not be the HSP problem you think it is

In our market-economy, time is money and getting more things done is often considered of the utmost importance. In this context, procrastination tends to be treated as the evil enemy, how do we beat it?

Yet, what if procrastination is not necessarily the problem we assume it is?

Let me divert a little to explain what I mean.

If you’re HSP then you process things deeply. Information goes in and it goes through a 4-part HSP stomach, then it gets regurgitated and it gets digested again. This processing is very similar to the digestion process of purple Milka cows.

So, off to the evergreen fields we go! (biology field trip)

What happens if a purple cow keeps eating non-stop?

We don’t really know, because purple cows don’t do that, but we can imagine what would happen. They’d probably get sick. Part of the grass is being regurgitated, and new grass is already being added? Kind of messes up the whole process. Now, how will all the body enzymes keep track of the stuff that is already gone through the cycle once versus the stuff that still needs to go through the digestion cycle twice?

So cows compartmentalize the whole process. There’s a time for stuffing down grass and there’s a time for chewing the cud.

If we HSP’s follow their example, a lot of problems can be averted.

Here’s what we often end up doing instead:

  • We start eating 20 different grasses at once (20 different projects/tasks/responsibilities) and then, halfway through chewing, we realize that all our stomachs are on overload.
  • We start eating some grass, start digesting it, get bored (or feel pressured), eat some more…meanwhile, our digestive order gets messed up and some things are not fully digested at all while others get digested too often. The grass (read: info) overload leads to us ruminating over some things endlessly and not thinking carefully enough about other things. Our brain-stomachs have trouble maintaining flow because we didn’t work with our natural prioritizing digestive process: bite off some, chew and digest fully, then bite off some more.
  • We start eating more when the digestive process is only halfway. When we should be chewing the cud and swallowing it again to fully clear and process it, we mistakenly believe that we’ve “been there and done that” and are ready for the next thing. Except, we’re not. Perhaps we’ve processed something mentally, but have we fully processed it emotionally too?

So, why is procrastination potentially not the problem it seems to be?

Here’s 11 different possible reasons:

1. What looks like procrastination can actually signal a need for more cud-chewing time. Instead of trying to force yourself to get back to work, experiment with taking a break.

2. Procrastination may happen when we realize that we’re about to eat way too much grass, yet we’re not sure yet which of the available grasses we want to choose. Procrastination may hence signal confusion about which things to prioritize. Take some time to figure out what is most important, then do that and let the rest be.

3. Procrastination may signal that you’re about to get in way over your head. Time to call in the troops! The Milka Purple Cows (once again) give the example: lots of people on the team:

(I couldn’t find an english version of this commercial, so I’m including a translation with this French version. At the end of the scene the guy exitedly explains what he saw: “and the groundhog, it puts the chocolate in the tin-foil, just like this” (shows with hands). The lady then responds sarcastically: “but of course”)

4. Procrastination may signal that you’re not as interested in all that fodder as you think you are, or think you should be! Time to get real about what you truly want!

5. Procrastination may be the only socially accepted way to signal a “no”. Time to give yourself permission to step on some toes and stand up for yourself.

6 Procrastination may signal a disconnnect between what you think you can handle versus what you actually CAN handle. How much is really on your plate? Do the math.

7 Procrastination could be saying: now is not the time nor place to do this thing. Sometimes later is better.

8. Procrastination could be signaling some fears about what you worry will happen when you’ve finished your project. Tune in to your intuition and also get some emotional support. Are you stalling to put the future on hold?

9. Procrastintion may signal an as-of-yet unidentified conflict between what you want versus what seems to be expected of you. Who are you trying to please, and why?

10. Procrastination may signal that that thing you do when you procrastinate…should be made more of a priority. If you start knitting when you’re procrastinating, but you hardly allow yourself any knitting time otherwise, then more knitting is what you need (not more discipline). Fooling around time / creative & non world-changing hobby time/ wiling away time, it deserves it’s own timeslot, otherwise it will keep showing up when you planned to get other work done.

11. You might be spending all your time on unimportant things (that is: unimportant to you), never getting round to the things that matter (that is: matter to you). Trying to do it all, you won’t get anywhere. Do the most important things first. Procrastinating on the important stuff could simply be the result of putting the important stuff last (when you’re tired and running out of steam).


Purple Milka cows have it easy. Their whole life is planned out for them. They have a factory filled with rodents to do their bidding. They live up in the mountains where the air is always fresh. Sweet Heidi is their neighbour.

We HSP’s live down here in the real world. We don’t have a wombat or capibara that folds our laundry or packs our lunch. Yet the success of the Milka Cow Team is heavily defined by a few instructive and replicatable choices:

  • be selective about the quality of what you take in,
  • don’t try to wolfe it all down at once,
  • and take the time to chew the cud.
  • Oh, and delegate. You can’t chew the cud and pack the chocolate at the same time.


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1 Urbana February 6, 2014

Thank you! I loved this and it was just what I needed today.

2 Mary Ann February 20, 2014

I often feel I am procrastinating. However, reading what you said here makes me think about it in a new way. This is very helpful, and I really appreciate it!

3 Caroline van Kimmenade February 20, 2014

I’m glad to hear it’s opening new avenues, Mary Ann!

4 Germaine May 23, 2014

You have a brilliant mind that has an innovative and accurate way of viewing things! Caroline, thank you for being the special person you are! My mind has been brilliant and innovative as well when helping others. Yet, dull and inaccurate when viewing my own needs and how to fulfill them. I was always sad about my tendency toward procrastination, even-though I accomplished great things throughout my adult life (much for other people, some for myself). Procrastination is my achilles heel. I could not understand why I had this tendency. Yet at the same time, I always felt Highly-Sensitive and therefore thought I “couldn’t handle” overload (negative emotions in myself or others.) Now after reading your brilliant/innovative/accurate article, I see how the overload was truly that…too much old and new grass to chew on simultaneously. And all 11 reasons fit me to the tee, a couple reasons happened during some seasons of my life, but usually a few reasons happened simultaneously during most of my life…including now. Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo (thank you, thank you, thank you.) Now it’s time for this pretty purple cow to walk off the grassy green meadow and into the barn for a break. (now that’s a brilliant idea Germaine!)

5 Caroline van Kimmenade May 24, 2014

That’s great Germaine, enjoy the barn! :)

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